No. 3 Maryknoll’s batters have found a big-time groove.
Coach John Uekawa‘s softball squad launched two grand slams and put the hurt on No. 7 Kamehameha 16-9 on Wednesday at the Warriors’ home field.
Catcher Liliana Thomas and right fielder Kaylah Santos went long with the sacks full, and the Spartans (3-0) also got a complete-game performance from Aloha Akaka, who earned the win despite giving up three round-trippers to the Warriors.
“We’e been very, very fortunate with the bats, 1 through 9,” said Uekawa, whose team also beat then-No. 4 St. Francis 13-3 in six innings Saturday.
On Wednesday, seven Maryknoll batters had at least one RBI, led by Santos’ five. She is a four-year starter in the outfield.
“She kind of likes this field,” Uekawa said about Santos, who hit one over the fence two years ago at the same site.
The one downside to the Spartans’ effort was that they yielded five runs to Kamehameha after taking a 14-4 lead. Instead of closing out the Warriors early, the game continued and Kamehameha got as close as 14-9 in the fourth inning.
That’s a matter of throwing too many balls, according to the coach.
“When you do that, you kind of go through long innings and it puts some doldrums in you,” he said. “Once you go through the doldrums, you get lackluster. We gotta stay awake and be attentive to everything.”
Santos bats ninth in the order. Thomas hits second and is only a sophomore.
“She is one of our best players,” Uekawa said about Thomas. “She tries to really go the extra mile and sometimes you don’t have to. We’re just telling her to settle down sometimes.”
Akaka also had two doubles and two RBIs for the Spartans. Her sister, starting center fielder Mahalo Akaka, was hurt trying to track down a home run by the Warriors’ Colby McClinton in the third inning. She ran right over the soft fencing, flipped on to her head and shoulder and then took a golf-cart ride back to the bench while being replaced by Breli-Rylin Agbayani-Shibao.
With the win, Maryknoll moved into a first-place ILH tie with No. 8 ‘Iolani. Kamehameha is a game back at 2-1.
The Spartans will try to stay on the winning track Saturday at home against Damien.